Every year, on January 26, people across the country celebrate Australia Day in honour of the arrival of the First Fleet of British ships at Port Jackson in 1788.
However, the public holiday is also a topic of regular debate as many people question whether it is right to celebrate the day, with some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people instead referring to the day as Invasion Day, marking the invasion by British settlers of lands already owned.
Now one local council in New South Wales has found itself locking horns with the prime minister, after the mayor announced plans to move the Australia Day event forward by one day, according to The Daily Telegraph.
Scott Morrison blasted Byron Shire Council’s decision, which is said to have been made in acknowledgement of the belief that January 26 marks “the day the cultural decimation and denigration of the First Australians began”.
The PM said the day is a chance to celebrate the country’s achievements, as well as failures, and that he plans to do that in a “sensitive, respectful and proud” manner.
Responding to an article published by The Daily Telegraph, the PM said: “Indulgent self-loathing does not make Australia stronger. Being honest about the past does – our achievements and our failings.
“We should not rewrite our history. Our modern Australian nation began on January 26, 1788. That is the day to reflect on what we’ve accomplished, what we’ve become and what we still have to achieve. We can do this sensitively, respectfully, proudly and, most importantly, together. That’s my plan.”
Byron Shire Council made the decision last week at a local council meeting, after Mayor Simon Richardson put a motion forward proposing their 2019 Australia Day event be moved to the evening of January 25.
Other councils, including Darebin and Yarra in Victoria, have already voted to stop holding citizenship ceremonies on January 26, leading to the federal government stripping them of their right to hold citizenship ceremonies at all.